After two weeks of sitting idle and watching other ECAC teams beat up on each other, the Harvard men's hockey team returns to action this week eager to beat up on some teams on its own.
Harvard hopes to maintain its place in a tie atop the ECAC standings when it resumes play with games against Colgate (5-15-4, 3-8-1 ECAC) tonight and a critical contest against rival Cornell (9-6-4, 7-3-2) tomorrow night. The Crimson will look to build on its success against both these teams earlier this year, when it earned three points in upstate New York. Harvard beat Colgate 3-2 and tied Cornell 1-1 on the trip.
Surprisingly, the Crimson returns to ECAC play in the same position as it left it before exam period--in first place. Although other conference teams had as many as six games in hand in mid-January, none of the closest contenders have been able to string together enough victories to overtake the Crimson.
Vermont, once in second place, has since collapsed, going 1-6-1 in January.
"There's always been lot of parity in the ECAC, especially this year," captain Steve Moore said. "We're happy that we're able to control our situation." The Crimson heads into the weekend tied for first place with surging St. Lawrence--who has won seven of its last nine--and one point ahead of Cornell. The Saints and Big Red both have one more game in hand, however.
Yet Harvard has the easiest remaining conference schedule of all conference frontrunners. The Crimson plays six of its final nine ECAC games at Bright, where it hasn't lost since November. Harvard also beat each of its three remaining road opponents at home by three goals.
"The layoff benefits us," sophomore forward Brett Nowak said. "We're going to be healthy and we're going to be home, but we've still got a lot of tough teams to play against."
Harvard opens the weekend tonight against a struggling Colgate squad. The Red Raiders have not been able to build off of their NCAA tournament appearance a year ago, as they sit tied for tenth in the ECAC.